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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Children's understanding of subordinate kind and brand categories Dharmawan, Erica


Prior research has left it unclear whether – and if so when – children understand two distinct types of category of manufactured objects: kind categories defined by the maker’s intended function and brand categories defined by the maker’s identity. In three studies, 408 4- to 8-year-olds and adults participated in a forced-choice task in which they extended a novel label from one manufactured household object (the target) to another object that shared either the maker's intended function (the kind) or the maker's identity (the brand). By five years, participants who were introduced to a novel name for the target's brand were significantly more likely to select the object that matched in terms of the maker's identity than those who were introduced to a novel noun for the target's kind. Additionally, by five years, participants who heard a kind label systematically chose the object that shared the maker's intended function. By age seven, participants who heard a brand label systematically chose the object that shared the maker's identity. These findings indicate that children as young as five years understand kinds and brands as distinct types of artifact category, though their knowledge of kind categories may emerge earlier than that of brand categories. We discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of children’s knowledge and learning of subordinate categories, as well as the development of their knowledge of artifact categories.

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